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Year-Round Consent Letters Create Opportunity for Some

Posted May 10, 2007

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— The Wake County school system's year-round school permission letters have created a window of opportunity for some who were previously denied a chance to enroll in a year-round school.

The district is sending the letters to the families of about 32,000 students slated to attend a year-round school for the 2007-08 school year. The letters seek to obtain parental consent for the year-round assignment, and parents who opt for a traditional school will have to wait until mid-June to find out what school their children will attend.

The district is trying to comply with a court order that prevented students from being assigned to year-round schools without parental consent.

A parents group sued to block the district's plan to convert 19 elementary schools and three middle schools from traditional schedules to a year-round calendar. A judge last week ruled that a 2004 state law setting the opening and closing dates of North Carolina public schools prevented the district from forcing children to attend year-round schools.

District officials say they need the extra space year-round schools provide to provide seats for an expected 8,000 new students next year. But the parents group said the shift in schedules would disrupt their lives and was unfair to their children.

Families who backed the lawsuit said the permission letter offers them an impossible choice -- a year-round schedule they don't want at the school they do want, or the traditional calendar they want at an unknown school.

"They're coercing us and using strong-arm tactics to get us to choose what they think is best for us," parent Allison Backhouse said. "I think people are going to bow to the Board of Education. They've been fed lies."

Meanwhile, parents like Paige Holland are excited about the opportunity the permission letters offer. She unsuccessfully tried to get her 5-year-old son, Killian, into kindergarten at a year-round school a few months ago and now hopes a spot may open up at one of the converted schools.

"We feel really bad for the parents that have been been so torn through this and the teachers. But personally for us, it's hopefully going to be a positive thing. We hope we're one of the ones that gets filled in to fill a year-round spot, Holland said.

District officials expect at least two-thirds of the families receiving permission letters to accept year-round assignments, said Rosa Gill, the vice chairwoman of the Wake County Board of Education. The district will then turn to families like Holland's to fill the remaining slots.

Based on initial feedback officials have received, most parental choices for traditional or year-round schools will be honored, Gill said.

"We'll work very very hard with parents to make sure that they get the type of calendar that they want for their children. We can't guarantee them where they'll be going, but we can guarantee them a traditional track," she said. "It's our responsibility to provide a quality education for all students, and sometimes that limits the choice that we can give to parents."

177 Comments

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  • mosscl33 May 11, 2007

    we got our forms today....and am sending it back on monday.......

  • bb May 11, 2007

    We didn't get our form from the school. The principal called all the kids that are reassigned to YR at 3 pm to the cafeteria and told them that the school did not get the forms yet – so they are going to mail them. He told the kids that we need to get it back to school by May 18.

  • speedy May 11, 2007

    hondaman: GIVE IT UP! According to WCPSS own web site, bid to opening is just over a year. It DOES NOT take 3 years to build a school.
    http://www.wcpss.net/facilities/bid_schedule.html

  • alanvankirk May 11, 2007

    .....Important Update.....

    If I read this correctly I believe Wake County Web site is now showing 2007-2008 traditional school assignments!!!

    For thoose of us relize the value of a traditional option this is a plus. But please call and verify that it is correct...

    Go to the link below follow the instructions. At the bottom of the page it says 2007 2008 base and traditional options....

    http://www.wcpss.net/growth-management/assignment.html

  • Student Nurse May 11, 2007

    To momofnha - quote, "Why don't we eliminate the More at Four program? At Vance Elem, for example, they took up enough space for at least 40 kids. Not that I am bashing the More at 4, but why are they occupying needed space? Why can't they (whoever "they" is) take the federal money for that program and convert that old Winn Dixie in S. Raleigh to a MA4 center? It certainly would be closer to the kids it serves."

    Are you implying that the moreat4 program is geared for a certain geographic area of Raleigh? That is pretty snobbish.

    And while you are at it, let us scoop up all the rest of the special needs kids and convert old grocery stores into schools for them. After all, the schools are just for the kids that CAN learn, right? My own special needs child won't benefit at all from learning alongside a typically developing peer. Sheesh! My child has just as much right to go to a mainstream school as the next.

  • Just weighing in May 11, 2007

    Hey Wake up ...
    Your right... I don't think at this time all the 22 schools need to be converted... they should convert as needed, using a parent survey or an intent form. Then one school could be left traditional and one converted to yr. and place the children accordingly. Simple leaving half the schools traditional, plus bus routes would be simpler too!

  • SS67 May 11, 2007

    Before I had to apply ( and was turned down) to get my kid into a YR school that wasn't the school I wanted that was traditional. Now it's the other way around.
    Don't like it? Tough! Now you know how I felt!

  • Section25 May 11, 2007

    I am sure the board atty did. Judge Manning's reasoning and the use of the very new school calendar law along with a web of other laws was unforeseen and unexpected by both sides. WakeCARES did not make that argument. It will be reviewed and could be overturned. I do not know and will not research - WCPSS is accepting the decision for now and moving forward. That is where we are now.

  • wakep May 11, 2007

    Let's be honest people - this isn't about vacations this is about child care issues, working parents, kids having to go to school in the summer months and don't forget YR conversion is a temporary solution to an overwhelming problem - the board should have done somme homework first, why didn't the board attorney research the ramifications the legal ramifications before they even mentioned mandatory YR and second wouldn't it have made sense to send out some sort of survey to the parents asking them would you choose YR or Traditional to get a better feel for the community - all of this could have been avoided - but as usual they don't think ahead

  • momofnha May 11, 2007

    Why don't we eliminate the More at Four program? At Vance Elem, for example, they took up enough space for at least 40 kids. Not that I am bashing the More at 4, but why are they occupying needed space? Why can't they (whoever "they" is) take the federal money for that program and convert that old Winn Dixie in S. Raleigh to a MA4 center? It certainly would be closer to the kids it serves.

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